Bioengineer and 2011 National Geographic Emerging Explorer, Kakani Katija is dedicated to developing underwater technologies to better observe biological and physical processes where they happen in the ocean. Her research and engineering development efforts have contributed to our understanding of nutrient cycling in the oceans, biologically induced mixing of the oceans, the ecology of gelatinous and soft-bodied invertebrates in deep-sea environments, and bioinspired design.
She is currently a Principal Engineer and Principal Investigator at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, and heads the Bioinspiration Lab. Katija and members of her team develop tools and platforms that include advanced imaging tools, electronics tagging packages and autonomous underwater vehicles to address a wide range of marine science questions. A former ice dancer and member of the U.S. International Figure Skating Team, Katija is an active scientific diver, conducting field expeditions in various locations around the world using technologies she has developed.
Katija was named a National Geographic Emerging Explorer in 2011 and a Kavli Research Fellow in 2013, and she has received generous funding support from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the National Geographic Society, and the National Science Foundation. Although her education began in Aeronautics and Astronautics at the University of Washington, Katija received her Ph.D. in Bioengineering at the California Institute of Technology. When not in the lab or ocean, she can be found with her husband and dog roaming around the West.
This event is hosted by broadcaster and science communicator Greg Foot.